The Al Jazeera Media Network, founded and owned by Qatar, has featured some of the most grotesque antisemitism ever aired on television. They famously televised the talks of arch Jew-hater Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood movement, of which Hamas is a part, and who lives in Qatar. In one sermon obtained by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) Qaradawi claims the Holocaust to have been divine punishment of the Jews, adding, “Next time, God willing, it will be at the hands of the believers” – his way of beseeching Muslims to engage in a genocide of the Jews.
Another feature on Al Jazeera, also found courtesy of MEMRI, was a birthday party put on by the network for a terrorist who brutally murdered a four-year-old Jewish girl by smashing her head against the rocks of Nahariya’s coast. As one might expect in a tribute to such a “hero,” the party was complete with an oversized cake, a melodious band and a fireworks show.
Now, the virulently anti-Israel government of Qatar, which pays for and distributes these videos, has launched a well-funded propaganda offensive in the American Jewish community, hoping to influence its leading members in support of its regime. With Qatar deeply embroiled in a diplomatic crisis with much of the Arab world – which has in turn blockaded the small yet powerful emirate – they seem to be using the American Jewish community to help them appear moderate enough for the United States government to take their side.
Of course, the thought of Qatar actually changing their egregious stance toward Israel, the Jewish people and support for terrorism has remained, thus far, absent. There has been no word on toning down the antisemitism and bitterly anti-Israel content on Al Jazeera. Hamas, for which Qatar is the chief funder, has not only refused to adopt a more peaceful approach toward Israel, but seems to be doubling down on their blood-drenched, murderous methods. Just this week, the terror-group swore to “revive the intifada” if President Trump were to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Though the last intifada left more than 1,000 Jews murdered in cold blood, Qatar didn’t lift a finger to curb Hamas’s despicable threat. The Emirate hasn’t even threatened to expel the Hamas leaders who call Qatar home should they continue to espouse their genocidal hatred of the Jews.
Qatar, it appears, won’t actually do anything productive to earn Jewish friendship. As the world’s wealthiest per-capita country, they have decided instead to purchase a new image. What we know so far is that Qatar has already put a substantial amount of cash toward hiring a Jewish-owned Washington public relations and lobbying firm to make inroads in the Jewish community. I recently saw the person who is leading this effort at a right-wing Jewish charity event. We also know, according to reports in The Jerusalem Post, that at least three major Jewish leaders – Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents, Rabbi Menachem Genack of the Orthodox Union, and Martin Oliner of the Religious Zionists of America – have recently been to Doha, the capital of Qatar.
More shocking than the fact that some Jews have allowed themselves to be used as tools of Qatar’s false philo-Semitic facelift, is that this development has been met by a deafening silence in the very community it threatens. Even as Qatari influence creeps into and throughout the American Jewish community, one barely hears any protest.
That’s not to say that the Jewish community has lost its voice. On the contrary, with regard to other threats, we as a community have by no means lost our ability to condemn.
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When Linda Sarsour spoke last week on an antisemitism panel at the New School, the Jewish community was in justifiable uproar, with its leaders offering extraordinary eloquence in their censures. The Jerusalem Post
editorial board, which alone has published courageous editorials condemning the Qatari propaganda effort, decried the event as “a forum of ‘antisemites on anti-Semitism’” that “makes as much sense as a KKK forum on civil rights.” The Anti-Defamation League’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “Having Linda Sarsour... leading a panel on #antisemitism is like Oscar Mayer leading a panel on vegetarianism.” United Nations Watch executive director Hillel Neuer wrote, “Asking Linda Sarsour to speak on antisemitism is like Rutgers making Assad spokesman Mazen Adi a professor on war crimes,” which, by the way, they are actually doing. There was even a Change.org petition that garnered over 10,000 signatures calling on New School president David Van Zandt to take action on the panel which “is itself systemic antisemitism.”
These denunciations were significant and impactful. But Sarsour’s maximum capacity for harm against Israel pales beside Qatar’s funding of a terrorist organization like Hamas and the daily anti-Israel poison of Al Jazeera.
There was even a wave of criticism against The Zionist Organization of America, headed by my friend Mort Klein, one of Israel’s staunchest champions, over their decision to host Steve Bannon as a speaker at their annual gala.
I have written at length saying that Bannon proved his friendship to Israel before joining the administration by opening a Breitbart bureau in Jerusalem to defend the Jewish state, and was one of the strongest pro-Israel voices while serving in the administration itself. On the subject of Qatar funding Hamas, Bannon seems to harbor a greater awareness of the threats facing the Jewish people than many American Jewish leaders.
At the ZOA dinner, Bannon courageously identified Turkey, Qatar and Iran as the foremost threats in the Middle East, especially because of their hostility toward Israel. Astonishingly, while he spoke, there were Jewish leaders in the audience who had just returned from a visit to the emir.
Bannon would have none of it. Rejecting the Qatari narrative that claims that it was an innocent victim of a Saudi boycott, Bannon was clear in stating that Qatar had chosen to ally itself with Iran and Hamas, Israel’s sworn genocidal foes, each of which is dedicated in word and action to Israel’s annihilation.
So why are Jewish leaders suddenly parading themselves to Doha?
The passage of time will no doubt unearth information about the mysterious hold Qatar suddenly has on Jewish leaders, along with the strange, deafening silence that has gripped so many communal organizations, while the chief funder of Hamas slowly spreads its tentacles and its resources in elite New York Jewish circles.Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post and Newsweek call “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is the international bestselling author of 30 books, including his most recent, The Israel Warrior. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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